CUPE 3902 STATEMENT ON ALLEGED ASSAULT NEAR CAMPUS

Today, the CUPE 3902 Women’s Caucus was contacted by a journalist at CityNews seeking clarification regarding a Facebook post warning women about a man “targeting young-looking women” near the St. George campus.

While at the time we were unaware of the incident, there is, indeed, a post alleging that a woman was attacked and assaulted over the weekend, in broad daylight, near College and Spadina. More alarmingly, the attacker is alleged to have been posing as a police officer.

We have since contacted the University of Toronto Administration, the Toronto Police Service and the University of Toronto Campus Police to clarify whether or not such a report has been filed and whether the details of the post are accurate. We are currently awaiting a response from the Administration, but can confirm that both the Toronto Police Service and Campus Police have open files and are investigating the reports. Toronto Police have also clarified that at least parts of the allegations are inaccurate, but, so as to not compromise the investigation, cannot specify which.

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DONATION REQUESTS FOR UPCOMING GMM (22 SEPTEMBER 2016)

1. $200 / month to Rank & File Magazine

What is the organisation, group, cause or campaign being donated to? Please include a name, description and, if possible, a link to further information.
Rank & File is an online magazine that acts as a Canadian labour and trade union news source (http://rankandfile.ca/).

What is the amount being requested? What is the rationale for the amount being requested?
$200 / month. The magazine is funded by donations and is an important source for the trade union and social justice activist movement. It is in the interest of the Local to provide funds to an ally publication.

Is there additional information you would like to provide to members about the donation request?
N/A

2. $2,500 to 15yearsofwar (M/S: Mary Jean H / Robert F)

What is the organisation, group, cause or campaign being donated to? Please include a name, description and, if possible, a link to further information.
The donation is for the 15yearsofwar campaign, and particularly in supporting their upcoming demonstration October 7th. The campaign is co-organized with the Afghanistan Students Union, and focuses on the role of Western (particularly Canadian) intervention is sustaining the continued levels of violence and oppression seen in Afghanistan today. Further information can be found here: https://15yearsofwar.wordpress.com/ or on the facebook page for the group: https://www.facebook.com/15yearsofwar

What is the amount being requested? What is the rationale for the amount being requested?
$1000 is requested, the money will go towards logistics and transportation costs associated with the day of action.

Is there additional information you would like to provide to members about the donation request?
Many members from both our local as well as from 3903 at York as well as Afghan students from both universities and Afghan community members have been involved in this campaign.

3. $2,500 to Workers Action Centre (M/S: Justin K / Evan M)

What is the organisation, group, cause or campaign being donated to? Please include a name, description and, if possible, a link to further information.
Justicia for Migrant Workers
http://www.justicia4migrantworkers.org/contact_new.htm

What is the amount being requested? What is the rationale for the amount being requested?
$2, 500. General Membership Meeting.
WHEREAS with the historic labour law review on going, it is imperative that unions such as our own, organize and support organizing to ensure a fair wage and employment laws that are truly protective of all workers and conducive to labour movement growth.
WHEREAS recognizing that the Workers Action Centre has been a main proponent for the “”Fight for 15 and Fairness”” in Ontario and that their engagement with workers who are predominantly non unionized, racialized, immigrant, and precarious workers without access to union protection and resources.
CUPE3902 donates $2,500 to the Workers Action Centre for the purposes of the Fight for $15 and Fairness Campaign in Ontario

Is there additional information you would like to provide to members about the donation request?
N/A

4. $500 to Toronto350.org (M/S: Andrew P / Robert F)

What is the organisation, group, cause or campaign being donated to? Please include a name, description and, if possible, a link to further information.Toronto350.org is a local network affiliate of the international 350.org founded by Bill McKibben. We work to promote leadership in climate action. We are building a global, grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. (http://www.toronto350.org/about)

What is the amount being requested? What is the rationale for the amount being requested?
$500. Toronto350.org is conducting a Freedom of Information request related to the University of Toronto’s decision not to divest from fossil fuel divestment. We want to help with the associated costs of putting in a Freedom of Information request and/or with raising awareness about fossil fuel divestment on campus.

Is there additional information you would like to provide to members about the donation request?
N/A

5. $200 to Kennedy House Youth Service Inc. (M: Jason W)

What is the organisation, group, cause or campaign being donated to? Please include a name, description and, if possible, a link to further information.
Kennedy House Youth Services Inc. ( http://www.kennedyhouse.org ) Our organization supports high risk youth, and youth with disabilities. We provide group homes, modified learning plans, and customized clinical care that serves hundreds of youth across the GTA and Durham region.

What is the amount being requested? What is the rationale for the amount being requested?
$200, The money will be used to purchase food items for the youth shelter.

Is there additional information you would like to provide to members about the donation request?
We are a long standing not-for-profit organization, registered in 1972. Our organization proudly supports the youth in our community today thanks to the generous, united support of our community partners. Your gift to Kennedy House Youth Services will help support the people ages 4-24 whom we assist through our many programs.

6. $2,000 to Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (M: Nickie V)

What is the organisation, group, cause or campaign being donated to? Please include a name, description and, if possible, a link to further information.
Chippewas of the Thames Legal Defence Fund
The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation are seeking leave from the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a ruling by the National Energy Board (NEB) regarding the approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline. The NEB granted approval despite the fact that the Crown had not fulfilled its constitutional duty to consult with First Nations and accommodate their interests. Line 9 is an aging pipeline that crosses every major tributary and watershed feeding into Lake Ontario, including passing right through the city of Toronto, putting the drinking water of millions at risk. It is also part of Canada’s tar sands expansion efforts that have displaced Indigenous nations in northern Alberta and put in jeopardy their health and means of subsistence. As a union whose members and activities occur on occupied lands, as union and a local that has expressed commitment to working in solidarity with Indigenous communities, and as settlers of the city of Toronto who will benefit considerably if the NEB ruling is overturned, we cannot stand by while the Chippewas of the Thames bear the financial burden of demanding justice from Enbridge and the state. Members of 3902 generously voted in favour to donate some funds to this legal battle last year, but the Chippewas of the Thames are still seeking $200,000 before their case is heard on November 30th, 2016.

What is the amount being requested? What is the rationale for the amount being requested?
$2,000

Is there additional information you would like to provide to members about the donation request?
N/a

7. $1,000 to Justicia for Migrant Workers (M/S: Leah M / Evan M)

What is the organisation, group, cause or campaign being donated to? Please include a name, description and, if possible, a link to further information.
Justicia for Migrant Workers
http://www.justicia4migrantworkers.org/contact_new.htm

What is the amount being requested? What is the rationale for the amount being requested?
We are requesting $1000 donation in support of the their Harvesting Freedom campaign, demanding legal status for migrant workers. The money will be used to support a caravan this group is organizing from Leamington, ON to Ottawa.

Is there additional information you would like to provide to members about the donation request?
J4MW strives to promote the rights of migrant farmworkers (participating in the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and the Low Skilled Workers Program) and farmworkers without status. Promoting workers rights entails fighting for spaces where workers themselves can articulate their concerns without losing their work or being repatriated. We start with workers’ knowledge and concerns and and collectively devise strategies to make necessary changes. We see ourselves as allies and strive for a movement that is led and directed by workers themselves.

WOMEN’S CAUCUS OPEN LETTER

One Year Later: The Online Threats against Women and Feminists at UofT

One year ago, the CUPE 3902 Women’s Caucus issued a call to the University of Toronto community. In response to online threats of violence levelled against women and feminists working and studying on campus, especially in the Department of Sociology and the Women and Gender Studies Institute, the Union’s goal was to confront the threats by coming together and taking back the campus. The result was an impressive display of solidarity, bringing together undergrads, grads, faculty and other university staff with a clear and strong public condemnation of anti-female and anti-feminist threats.

While today marks the anniversary of the threats and, in turn, the community’s denunciation of them, it also marks an entire year during which the administration failed to deal in a meaningful way with the security of students, staff and faculty, particularly those who identify as women.

The September 2015 threats were initially not disclosed by the University Administration. CUPE 3902, with our trade and student union partners, did the work of making the threats public via social media, email and word of mouth. Only after we informed our members of the threats did the Administration acknowledge their existence at all. We later learned that similar threats had been made months earlier and that the University had never notified students and workers of the need for increased safety.

Days after the threats were made public, the President of the University of Toronto, Meric Gertler, admirably remarked in a statement published on the university website that “Violence against women is a despicable reality in Canada and around the world. We must take every opportunity to condemn it and work tirelessly to bring it to an end [emphasis added].”

While we wholeheartedly agree with President Gertler’s words, we are deeply concerned with the University Administration’s lack of proactive work to back up his statement with concrete actions. Security on campus is an ongoing, everyday concern, not a singular event to react to. It requires transparency and open communication between community members. And yet, subsequent security concerns on campus have been met with near silence from the Administration. In those instances when they’ve bothered to inform the community, it has been in the form of simple emergency alerts and “all clears” via email, the U of T website and Twitter, with little to no information, detail, or context in between.

In October 2015, for example, our union was contacted by members concerned with a possible security breach in the Jackman Humanities Building: there was police presence in the building’s lobby, the elevators were on lockdown, and, later that day, their department sent them an email warning them to take security precautions when working “after hours.” In light of the violent threats made against feminist and female students, staff, and faculty just weeks earlier, our members wanted reassurance from the Administration that the University remained a safe place at which to work. Instead, when the Union contacted the Administration, they told us that they had no information to give us and there was probably no reason to worry. No emergency alert or “all clear” was ever sent out by the Administration.

A second incident occurred this past June when the St. George campus was put on lockdown after alleged sightings of a gunman near the Faculty of Law. Once again, the Administration failed to notify the Union that anything was amiss. Indeed, had the Union’s Bloor-street office not afforded us with a bird’s-eye view of the police lockdown of the area of campus closest to the Faculty of Law, the only way we would have known anything about the situation would have been through social media.

In an era of instant communication, university community members and workers have a right to timely and detailed warnings. Having access to accurate security information allows students, faculty and staff to judge and prepare for a given situation, to recognize larger patterns and work towards implementing proactive changes so that the campus can become a safer physical space.

What has not contributed to making a safer campus, is the continued presence of Administratively-recognized groups that, under the guise of open dialogue and freedom of speech on campus, espouse misogynistic sentiments. These Men’s Rights / Men’s Issues Activist groups (MRAs) have been provided with official club status and funding under ULife. On the Men’s Issues Awareness at the University of Toronto (UTMIA) club webpage, for example, they declare that:

We recognize the need to build a movement centred on Men’s Issues which will engage in consciousness-raising, public education and efforts to change public policy. We feel the public should be aware of the existence and specifics of Men’s Issues and the fact that these issues are not isolated, but rather interconnected and part of a large societal pattern that in many ways harms boys and men. We will engage in critiques of contemporary society as necessary, but our focus shall be on positive activism to advance a healthier society.

The reality, however, is that MRAs are not interested in “positive activism.” Instead, they stalk, harass, and attack feminists, keep women’s voices on the margins and blame women for making men’s lives miserable by refusing to submit to the ideas and demands of the larger MRA project. Take, for example, the event hosted by UTMIA to mark the acquittal of Jian Ghomeshi. How exactly does an event that aims to advance the thoroughly unsubstantiated claim that rape allegations have systematically been used to undermine men’s personal and professional lives build “positive activism”? The reality is that groups like UTMIA act as Trojan horses for misogynistic platforms; they promote the idea that the hatred of feminism and feminists falls within the bounds of legitimate dialogue.

It is not, however, legitimate to say that feminism is a vehicle to oppress men. Feminism seeks to identify and name, interrogate and break down, the structures of patriarchy and social injustice. Its goal is to ensure that all people — irrespective of their gender — have equal access to self-determination, opportunity, dignity, human rights and freedom from violence and harassment.

As a Women’s Caucus, and in the tradition of feminism, we know that patriarchy and misogyny hurt all genders, including men. Groups that promote patriarchy and misogyny have no place at a university that claims to support and protect women. They have no place at a university that claims that violence against women is despicable. They have no place at a university that claims that every opportunity to condemn misogyny must be taken.

With this in mind, the CUPE 3902 Women’s Caucus has extended an invitation to the University of Toronto Provost and Vice President of Human Resources & Equity to see how we can work together on these issues. We hope they accept our invitation. As for the wider community of faculty, staff and students, we propose to hold a town hall on the issues of gendered violence and insecurity on campus and the ever-blurring boundaries between legitimate critique and enabling the spread of misogyny. The CUPE 3902 Women’s Caucus commits to organizing such an event this semester, hopefully with the active participation and support of the Administration.

Pamela Arancibia
Kevin Edmonds
Vanessa McCarthy
Ryan Culpepper
Adleen Crapo
Wayne Dealy
Kristen Allen
on behalf of the CUPE 3902 Women’s Caucus

wcaucus@cupe3902.org
https://www.facebook.com/3902WomensCaucus/

Unit 1 Orientations: Volunteers Needed!

Unit 1 orientations are quickly approaching. We’re currently scheduling 25-minute presentations in all Unit 1 departments, and we need YOUR HELP! We need both Unit 1 stewards and rank-and-file members to help us get the union word out to new TAs and CIs.

Get involved! Please contact organizer@cupe3902.org to let us know when the TATP training/grad orientation is happening in your department. Currently, we’ve only heard from one third of departments, and we have a lot of gaps to fill.

Announcement: Donations Request Form

It has come to the attention of the Executive Committee that the Donations Policy has not been properly implemented. From the CUPE 3902 Policy Compendium:

Donation requests made directly to the membership must be submitted at least fourteen (14) days in advance of a general membership meeting. The Executive Committee will prepare a standard form for such donation requests and post it on the Local website along with this policy.  Donation requests made or referred to a membership meeting must be sponsored by the Executive Committee or a member in good standing. Notice of the request, including all relevant information about the organisation, group, cause, or campaign, and the amount being requested, will be posted on the Local website at least one week prior to the membership meeting. Notice may be waived only for strike support donations.

Although this policy has been in place for several years, we realise that members are not used to it being enforced. For this reason, the Local wanted to give members notice that the above Donations Policy will be followed going forward. We ask members who are planning to put donations requests forward to do so at their earliest convenience; you do not have to wait for meeting announcements to submit your requests.

The CUPE 3902 Donations Form can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/ZOF1kZT8tr3yUoZM2

If you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail both crs@cupe3902.org and st@cupe3902.org